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Cloaking Hatred, Building Anger

“Thomas Mair is a hero! Death is just what Jo Cox deserved!”

A man who had said this about the murderer of Jo Cox MP would be a rather unlikely star turn at a “Counter Terrorism Conference”, don’t you think?

Especially, one must hope, if he was there to bestow an “award” on police officers, in the company of another MP. It is an absurd scenario, no matter how many other “positive” elements might be found in the Mair fan’s story.

Well, swap the assassinated Pakistani politician Salman Taseer for Jo Cox and try inexcusably sordid British reality.

Last month the Pakistani preacher Muhammad Hassan Haseeb ur-Rehman was the big name at a “Counter Terrorism Conference” in Manchester, organized by Mohammed Shafiq’s Ramadhan Foundation. Ur-Rehman gave an “award” to two Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers at the conference. Here they are on the left. Ur-Rehman is in the middle. Mohammed Shafiq and Labour MP Afzal Khan are on the right.

Ur-Rehman is an enthusiastic supporter of Mumtaz Qadri, the crazed fanatic who shot Salman Taseer dead in 2011 in the name of Islam because Taseer dared to speak up against Pakistan’s benighted “blasphemy” laws. Ur-Rehman should have no place on any platform featuring British police officers and politicians.

“Interfaith” worthies were also at the Manchester event. They have been apprised of what is happening by Sara Khan, the Commissioner for Countering Extremism:

Too often those promoting anti Ahmadiyya hatred wear a face of respectability and legitimacy. Last week I raised concerns about Sheikh Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, a prominent Muslim preacher in Pakistan who visited the UK to talk about countering terrorism and interfaith dialogue.

However behind these fine words, he has a history of promoting hatred and intolerance. He described Mumtaz Qadri who murdered Pakistani Governor, Salman Taseer who challenged the country’s blasphemy laws as a “martyr” and “holy warrior.” The same laws that are used to persecute the Ahmadiyya.

This is an important part of the story of extremism in 2018. Extremists deliberately misuse the language of rights and freedom to cloak their hate in respectability or “justice” when it is anything but.

Khan had unambiguous words for the Sunday Times as well when it covered this story:

Sara Khan, the lead commissioner for countering extremism, said: “Rehman attended and spoke at the funeral of Qadri and described him as a martyr. There is no defence or justification for celebrating an ideologically motivated assassination.”

It seems that the GMP did not know about this record. As the Sunday Times reported:

Greater Manchester police said: “The Sunday Times has now brought to our attention some concerns about one of the speakers, which we will now consider.”

Contacted by the newspaper, Mohammed Shafiq opted for ridiculous denial:

Shafiq said: “He is not a supporter of terrorism. He is an opponent of terrorism. Any insinuation that he is an extremist is frankly absurd and an insult.”

As for the Labour MP Afzal Khan, comment came there none when he was asked about his participation in the Manchester conference. This is perhaps not surprising – Khan has some form when it comes to helping extremists.

To make it all worse, ur-Rehman was openly and explictly criticized during similar UK tours in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, some of the strongest words came from two of Salman Taseer’s children. All to no avail – his critics were simply ignored or overlooked this summer, once again.

Many people across the UK are angry about ignorance, incompetence and double standards when it comes to dealing with extremists. How can the most threadbare of cloaks, easily cast aside with a simple Google search, be enough to fool those who should know better? For those who do know the truth, how red must the lines be? Is supporting political assassination in the name of Allah really no problem?

This is folly, at best, not noble work for “social cohesion”. If you fall for the cloaking of hatred, or, worse, know it is right in front of you and just carry merrily on, you will only help anger to build, not subside.